Helping Hands for Electronics
If there was a list for useful tools, then the Helping Hands Tool would have a high ranking. It is a heavy, sturdy base base with two or more crocodile clips, articulated joints and usually a magnifying glass. It is most helpful when soldering electronic components to circuit boards. During soldering wires and components can become very hot. As the crocodile clips are metal, they hold the components and also act as a heat sink, helping to dissipate excess heat. In case you're wondering what they look like, the picture below is a common type.
Magnifying Glass and Articulated Joints
The magnifying glass will prove beneficial if working on SMD (surface mount devices) or other small connections. The cheaper helping hands magnifying glass may be plastic, while the more expensive components are usually glass. Beware of parallax errors if viewing from an angle. Sometimes it is easier to remove the magnifying glass (right). The articulated joints (left) need only to be finger tightened, and allow for any position both vertical and horizontal. If the grip on the clips is too great then plastic wire insulation can be put over the teeth to soften the grip.
Holding SMD Components
Unless you are very articulate, and have very good eyesight, soldering the smallest components is a difficult task. To make the job easier, a wooden coffee stirrer, or lolly stick, or even a cocktail stick (if the end is filed) can make a useful component holder. Simply clip the wood and tighten the wing nuts to apply downward pressure.
In short there are numerous possibilities for the helping hands, not only in electronics but general model making and craft-work. The crocodile clip jaws only open a few millimetres. This is not a problem for holding circuit boards or PCB's, but to hold anything larger, a small bench vice may be more suitable.